The first step to playing YIIK is to not play it at all, because it’s a bad game from a gameplay, narrative and social standpoint. Just plain garbage all around. However, if you plan on playing the game the game anyway, well, you dug your own grave. I’ve already dug my own grave and I’ve been laying in it for months, so I may as well pass some tips on.
This is my April Fool’s joke, but most of the content you’ll be reading is sincere, because the best joke is the one I’m playing on myself for the sake of Content.
In the summer of 2019, my friend Rasen set out on a cursed mission: to do a book club style podcast of YIIK: A Postmodern RPG. He was joined by mutual friends Fang, Trick, Antinomy, Jake, Jawnsunn and Matt. In solidarity with them, I did a playthrough of the game accompanied by gonzo journalism type posting.
None of us had a good time.
We may be the people that know the most about this game because we spent a lot of time on it. Every week was another agonizing step toward the finish line. So, I feel qualified in writing this guide.
I recommend listening to YIIK Pics or just reading my Posts to get a handle on this game. If you still insist on playing YIIK though, like, if you’re doing a futile attempt at speedrunning, read on ahead, I guess.
Things to Know Before Starting
Battles in YIIK are painfully slow. So, imagine the action commands in Paper Mario, except slower and more bad. And also more boring, because almost all the enemy attacks in the game has the same three minigames instead of some fancy shit where you have to figure out enemy tells and time blocks accordingly.
During battle, there’s this Time Energy mechanic where you can slow down time, which will help you time dodges and attack minigames more easily. On paper, it’s a good idea. But also, there’s an “Assist Mode” that just gives you unlimited Time Energy, and you’re either a fool or Rasen to not use Assist Mode because Time Energy depletes so quickly compared to how long it takes to build up – and looking back, I honestly have no idea how Time Energy gets built up.
You’re going to have to do these battles because enemy stats seem to scale up drastically. For reference, some friends over at YIIK Pics got into a battle with level 2 enemies and despite doing the best possible combo with Alex, their damage output was just pitiful. As such, good luck speedrunning this game, because skipping encounters would lead to later enemies just being brick walls.
You get experience points, but ruh roh, how do you level up? You have to go to a separate area in the game called the Mind Dungeon. As if not going to a different physical place just to level up isn’t tedious enough, the method of leveling stats is a maddening cycle of entering a door, picking what stat you want to level, and then re-entering the door to lock that choice in, and the levels don’t get set until you lock in all the doors on the floor. Or you can just talk to a crow to set your stats for you to get it done quickly; they pick stats randomly, but also, who fucking cares, the Mind Dungeon sucks.
He’s your main character and he sucks so bad. Just looking at him fills my heart with rage. Unfortunately, because he’s the special boy of the universe, he becomes the best character to use by the end of the game.
His basic attack is a really annoying attack where you have this spinning record and you have to tap repeatedly on the yellow parts of the record to build up attack power; it’s here where it becomes apparent that the math in this game makes no sense because you can probably get a 12 hit combo but only do like, 5 damage. There is also a red spot on the record that you must hit to keep the record spinning so that you can keep building up attack power. It becomes extremely powerful, but the exchange is that it takes fucking forever to get a good attack off.
Then we got his skills. He has Panda Barrier, which protects the whole team from damage; it’s probably useful in the early game, before you want to prioritize attacking with him. He has LP Toss, an AOE attack where you play a Space Invaders minigame where attack power is determined by how many times you hit enemies with a record. Then there’s EP Toss, which is a version of his basic attack that doesn’t suck, except you just have to hit on a part of a weirdly timed record once; as such, this is probably going to be your main damage dealer toward the end.
In a different game, he’d probably be the main character because 1) he barely says anything so he may as well be a player insert character and 2) actually acts more heroic than Alex in that he isn’t a huge asshole.
His basic attack is a respectable “press this button in time to the sequence.” He has an AOE attack where he flashes his camera at enemies as you furiously tap the attack button; it’s probably useful toward the end of the game, but I barely used it because using it actually hurts my eyes.
So hey by the way: YIIK is really not kind to the photosensitive. Micheal’s camera attack is just one part of the problem.
He also has a move where he takes pictures of an enemy and you have to get them all posed with the “right expression.” You have to take a bad picture of them – otherwise, they’ll like the picture and gain an attack buff. Cool. Honestly don’t bother, because as far as I know, the only positive effect is inflicting a weak poison.
Also I guess he becomes a demigod called Proto Michael toward the end but it doesn’t mean anything because it does not reflect in battle.
I’m not sure if I recommend using him. I honestly forget.
So Vella has a guitar that attacks like a Paper Mario hammer, though you have to extra button presses with it with the stronger guitars. And her skills? Man, her skills makes me mad.
First is Bass Drop. You’re taken to a minigame where you play a tiny pixel Vella and you have to pick up and throw an amplifier at an enemy all Super Mario Bros 2 style. The problem is that the arcs of her throws vary, and you’re given zero indication of what arc she’ll throw it at, so it’s incredibly easy to fuck this minigame up.
Then there’s the minigame where you play Pong. But as friend of the site, Trick, puts it, “they fucked up Pong.” Your goal is to rally the ball around to build up attack power, but the problem is that the ball does not obey physics at all. Instead of bouncing in a way that makes sense, in a way that early computers already figured out, the direction the ball bounces off of the enemy paddle is completely random. Also, the result of the attack harms everyone in battle; doing good in the minigame just skews the damage toward hurting the enemies more.
Then she has the Banish minigame, where you play a top-down Zelda where you have to attack a teleporting enemy multiple times. Said enemy also teleports extremely fast and has unpredictable attack patterns. The effect of Banish – removing enemies from battle – also only works on Soul Survivors, of which there are like, 10 of in the entire game. Cool mechanic.
She can be a decent attacker, but it all depends on the minigames not fucking you over.
Rory works differently in that he does not have an attack. Instead, he declares who he’ll protect that turn and takes a hit for them. Conceptually, I thought that this was an okay idea. But like a lot of things in this game that I think are okay/good in concept, YIIK fucks it up. The problem is that the game actively undermines his gimmick in multiple ways:
- Alex has Panda Barrier, which is a team-wide protection effect. Granted, you’ll be wanting to use him for attacking instead of Panda Barrier from the mid-game on, but then you have –
- Chondra. Chondra is pretty much the game’s healer which I’ll talk about later on, but the problem is that she’s too good of a healer. You don’t need a tank when she can so easily heal everyone up.
- Because the game’s combat system allows you to avoid damage, you don’t need a tank character when you can just avoid damage altogether.
So Rory does not work within the context of YIIK. He has other skills, but the only one I really know about is swapping a character’s HP/PP, which is ridiculously situational. You shouldn’t use Rory past the point where you’re required to use him.
Claudio’s basic attack is actually pretty useful. You have to hold the attack button until the cursor is over a colored part of a gauge. I think. I honestly forget how it’s specifically controlled, whatever. If the cursor is in the green area, he gets a successful attack off. However, if it lands in the red area, he’ll shout “TRICK SHOT” and the attack becomes an AOE; at this point in the game, he’ll be the only character for a while that doesn’t have an AOE that sucks.
He has a Bushido skill where you have to copy movements with the control sticks to build up attack. However, I somehow couldn’t figure out how to properly work it. If you’re real good with it though you can stun enemies after building up a huge combo. If you got him figured out, then he’s a party staple for sure.
Chondra is an interesting character because her attacks suck, but she has the best skill in the game to make up for it. So, she does this hula hooping thing where you have to time button presses. She can enter stances that drains either her HP, her PP, both and the HP of other party members in exchange for higher attack power.
But this is the ultimate proof that damage calculations in this game sucks. Her normal attack is fairly weak, but her powered up attacks? Also weak. The damage increase with her best stance is not actually that big and not worth it.
Really, Chondra’s real utility comes with her Spread Item ability. She can spread the effects of any item to the entire party… and the effect is not minimized at all, as it would be with any equivalent skill in a competent RPG. And the best part is that the PP cost for the skill is actually really small, too. This skill is just broken. Like, everything about Chondra is broken, but Spread Item is broken in a good way.
You are a fucking idiot if you don’t keep Chondra in your party.
THE ESSENTIA 2000
…However, Essentia is the only character that isn’t helped by Chondra’s skills. So, the Essentia is a robot girl who has the unique mechanic of having an “energy” bar instead of an “HP” and “PP” bar. It acts as her health and she draws from it to do attacks. Because she’s the only one with energy, she has a unique set of items designed to heal only her, which is really kinda annoying? I guess you can say that it balances out the helpfulness of Spread Item, but because Essentia’s the only one with this mechanic it doesn’t drag the skill down too much.
Her basic attack is another “time button presses as a cursor goes around a circle,” though unlike Alex and Chondra, there’s no set limit to how much you can build your combo; her cursor just rotates faster the more you build things up, but it’s a non-issue if you got unlimited time energy. Now the thing is, you are also deducted energy based on how much you build your combo (I think it’s a 1-to-1 relationship), and, it’s entirely possible that you can kill yourself by being too good at this attack minigame. Which happened to me during Essentia’s first battle.
Her skills are a variety of things that just cost energy with no minigames required. There’s a “Self-Destruct” skill that does good damage, which is apparently useful if paired up with Panda Barrier, though it’ll obviously kill her too. Besides some AOEs, she can also put enemies to sleep and, hey, dear reader, don’t put the final boss of chapter 5 to sleep like I did, because it softlocks the game. Just saving you the trouble, here.
Decent character to use with a lot of nonsense surrounding her.
So, I’m an advocate of text guides because sometimes you’re just looking up one small thing and you don’t want to skip around a video to get the information you need. However, I refuse to write a fully fledged guide. Instead, this section will bring up problems people may have and problems people have found my articles from through Googling. If you have not given up on YIIK yet, here are some practical things to know.
Unlike a lot of things I’ve written, this will be continually updated based on what people are looking up, for the sake of lending aid to those who need it. So hey, let me know what might be important to mention.
There are mimics in the game and they fucking suck to fight. They have too much health for no fucking reason compared to the value of the loot they give. For your sake, here are the chests that are mimics and what they contain; you decide if you want to fight them or not. Please let me know if I’m missing any, for the sake of others:
Hiking Stick: PP+4
Occupy Bank Street: weapon for Rory with flavor text written by Boomers, who cares, easy skip
Football Helmet: HP +6, DEF +8, LUK +1
Gold Bracelet: HP+7, STR-3
The Carpet Puzzle
In Chapter 4 there’s a puzzle room with all these flying puzzles. Go toward the right. Toward the right, there’s a switch that opens up the door, which can only be accessed if you take the left path. You have to go right first, because with the way the room is designed, if you go left first, you have to undo all your work setting up the carpets just to go back around. Telling you this now to save you the headache, because doing it wrong made Rasen cry.
Okay, so YIIK has a lot of moral depravities, but this is one that’s easy to miss. Because Alex is a hero, he can push Rory to suicide and wind up not facing any lasting consequences for it. Here’s how to avoid that, because it’s just morally the right thing to do:
- In Chapter 3, when the gang goes to pick up Rory, make Alex do his half-assed apology.
- Hear Rory out about his problems at the start of Chapter 4.
- Pick Rory up before going to the mall in Chapter 4.
Not doing all of them leads to Rory committing suicide; though, the last part may be glitched so if you forget to do just that part Rory might kill himself anyway. Cool game.
The Ending Split
There are two endings for YIIK; the Allansons claim there’s a third one but they’re full of shit. The split happens near the end of Chapter 5, right before the cast goes to New York. The normal ending occurs if you go on right ahead.
The hidden ending is a bit more obtuse. You have to look behind the tree in Alex’s front yard for a little surprise, which will trigger a new e-mail to appear on Alex’s computer. After reading it, you can now go out through the back door in the kitchen. From there, you have to go to the Korean News Network building, which you’re previously barred off from during normal gameplay.
Also I wasn’t kidding about the game not being friendly to photosensitive people because this section is just terrible.
There is no third ending. There’s a joke bad ending on the comet in the last chapter, but it’s more like the joke endings in Nier: Automata.
What does the main ending mean? Did Alex die?
Fuck if I know. I hope he died though.